Taking care of kids feet

Growing Pains? Common Questions from Concerned Parents

At SoleFit, we receive many questions from concerned parents about the health and development of their children's feet

There’s not much worse than your child being in pain.  We see many active young people that face unique challenges when recovering from injury.  Fortunately, most kids respond quickly to conservative treatment and can get back to the activities they enjoy sooner than most.  Below are some of the most common questions we get asked by parents of injured kids:

Is it ‘just’ growing pains?

Because of the rapid growth and development, kids are predisposed to achiness, cramping, and pain in their legs and feet.  Sometimes the muscles just don’t catch up to the bones!  However, just because your child is experiencing something that can be considered a normal rite of passage, doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done to help ease the discomfort.  Heat, massage, and gentle stretching are great tools to help relieve soreness and also to increase flexibility.  Short term unloading tools like arch supports and heel lifts can also provide substantial pain relief.

Can I prevent my child from developing flat feet, knock knees, pigeon toed gait, etc.?

Likely not but it's important to understand that none of these conditions are necessarily a problem.  Often by age 8 or 9, your child has developed their adult foot shape and alignment and there is little evidence that using an orthotic/brace or corrective footwear will help improve their natural shape and alignment.  In fact, using braces or correction could work the opposite and potentially create weakness, imbalance, reliance on an external device, and even inhibit natural development.  In most cases, fixing dysfunctional patterns is more an issue of dealing with strength and mobility.  As always, if you notice a severe alignment issue or rapid change in gait or posture, see your health care practitioner for further assessment.

Does my child need to use corrective footwear/bracing/orthotics, etc. forever?

In the majority of cases, we use these tools as treatment options only, and when the issue is solved, our advice is usually to slowly wean away to reduce reliance.  This holds true for all of our clients at any age, but is especially crucial when treating children due to the development that occurs during adolescence.  We do not want to interfere with growth and strength, and create reliance on external devices.  There is an option to use a brace or orthotic more regularly in certain footwear (ie. soccer cleats that are unsupportive and uncomfortable) but in general, we are using a device to treat an injury in the short term.  In the long term, strength and flexibility are key to prevention and proper development!

Orthotics that help with hockey skates

Footwear for sports like hockey and soccer etc. can be especially tough on growing bodies.  Because these aren’t typically sports that we as humans are designed to do, arch supports can be an effective way of making a bad system better.  For running and walking, often ‘less is more’ when it comes to addition of arch supports and/or bracing, especially for long-term use.

Does my child have to give up their sport or activity if there's pain?

This can be a complicated answer.  No one wants to tell an active child they can’t play in the big game, or practice every day with their teammates after school.  However, in the short term, we likely do need to discuss whether a child’s activity schedule is harming their injury rehabilitation.  Reducing time on the ice, field, or court can be beneficial to healing the injury in a timely manner, reducing total time off in the end.  Many times, we can use ‘band-aids’ to get through the playoff season or crucial game and take more relative rest afterwards to truly let the injury heal.  Our goal is always to have our clients doing what they want to do, with the least amount of time off and fastest recovery time.  Training balance is an integral part of this goal.

We assess and treat our young clients in the same as all the rest of our clients.  Determining the root cause of an issue and creating a plan to resolve it is key. 

As always, we’d love to hear back from you if you have any questions and/or feedback.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for upcoming events, sales, and blog articles!

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